Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.

Issue 10, 2014
Previous Article Next Article

Molecular signature of organic nitrogen in septic-impacted groundwater

Author affiliations


Dissolved inorganic and organic nitrogen levels are elevated in aquatic systems due to anthropogenic activities. Dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) arises from various sources, and its impact could be more clearly constrained if specific sources were identified and if the molecular-level composition of DON were better understood. In this work, the pharmaceutical carbamazepine was used to identify septic-impacted groundwater in a coastal watershed. Using ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry data, the nitrogen-containing features of the dissolved organic matter in septic-impacted and non-impacted samples were compared. The septic-impacted groundwater samples have a larger abundance of nitrogen-containing formulas. Impacted samples have additional DON features in the regions ascribed as ‘protein-like’ and ‘lipid-like’ in van Krevelen space and have more intense nitrogen-containing features in a specific region of a carbon versus mass plot. These features are potential indicators of dissolved organic nitrogen arising from septic effluents, and this work suggests that ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry is a valuable tool to identify and characterize sources of DON.

Graphical abstract: Molecular signature of organic nitrogen in septic-impacted groundwater

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Article information

27 May 2014
06 Aug 2014
First published
06 Aug 2014

Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2014,16, 2400-2407
Article type
Author version available

Molecular signature of organic nitrogen in septic-impacted groundwater

W. A. Arnold, K. Longnecker, K. D. Kroeger and E. B. Kujawinski, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2014, 16, 2400
DOI: 10.1039/C4EM00289J

Social activity

Search articles by author